Learn or Lose


By Hugues Gibeault, Founder & CEO, Optimé International Inc. 

Management guru and bestselling author Peter Drucker once said that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

Organizational culture is generally understood as all of a company’s beliefs, values and attitudes, and how these influence the behaviour and performance of its employees. According to James L. Heskett in the Harvard Business Review, culture “can account for 20-30% of the differential in corporate performance when compared with ‘culturally unremarkable’ competitors.” 

Throughout my nearly 30 year career, I have watched companies attempt to create and evolve to new cultures countless times. Often this was influenced by the latest business reviews and trends on what was perceived to drive organizational performance. I’ve seen sales-driven cultures, high performance cultures, customer-centric cultures, people-first cultures, cultures that place shareholder value at the forefront of everything, and more recently, learning cultures. Given the career path I have followed, I think it’s fair to say that I have always felt that a learning culture is one that can best drive sustainable success in all areas of a business – especially in sales. Today this is the case more than ever.

A learning culture is one which encourages and enables employees to continuously seek, share and apply new knowledge, skills and the right mindset to improve their performance and ultimately, their organization’s as well. The importance of the ongoing pursuit of learning and application of those learnings, is promoted through the company’s core values and embeds itself into all aspects of the organization’s DNA. In a learning culture, work environments are inventive and open-minded places where people spark new ideas and explore alternatives.  Employees are united by curiosity; leaders emphasize innovation, knowledge and failing repeatedly, fast.


The accelerating pace of change and exponential growth in computing power is changing every aspect of business, according to Dr. Natalie and Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum. They indicate that the real difference in the previous industrial revolutions and this one is that the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. It is disrupting almost every industry in every country. The shift from simple digitization (the Third Industrial Revolution) to innovation based on combinations of technologies (the Fourth Industrial Revolution) is forcing companies to reexamine the way they do business. As a result, business leaders and senior executives need to understand their changing environment, challenge the assumptions of their operating teams, and relentlessly and continuously innovate.

Source: Dr. Natalie, Jan 22, 2018, Exponential ChangeFourth Industrial RevolutionKlaus SchwabWorld Economic Forum.

Eric Schmidt, Chairman at Google says: “Information created by humanity until 2003 equals 5 exabytes. Today we generate 5 exabytes of info in 6 hours.  Trend is accelerating.”

LinkedIn’s latest talent research shows that half of today’s most in-demand skills weren’t even on the list three years ago.  And other research indicates that by 2030, 85% of today’s jobs will no longer exist!

As a result, there is now a huge premium on intellectual curiosity, along with the desire, ability and agility to quickly grow and adapt one’s skills and mindset to add value in today’s rapidly changing business environment.  What you know is less relevant than what you can learn, and having all the answers is less critical than having the ability to ask the right questions in the first place.

The research linking learning to business success is compelling. “Companies that learn fastest and adapt well to changing environments perform the best over time,” says Edward Hess, a professor of business administration at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, and author of Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading Edge Learning Organization (Columbia Business School Publishing, 2014

Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, who is widely regarded as one of the top CEOs of all time, has often said that the ultimate competitive advantage in business is the ability to learn continuously and apply that knowledge to drive value. And if that’s not enough to convince you, a recent study by Accenture showed that for every dollar invested in training, companies received $4.53 in return. That’s a 353% ROI.

Is your company’s culture embracing learning and ongoing development?  Catch up or risk losing out.

Check out www.optime.com to find more tools and tips to take your sales organization from good to outstanding.

Good luck and good selling!